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Monday, April 26, 2010

MYKAL'S LATEST AMAZING COMICS BLOG -- KINGDOM KANE!



 
Fans of comics legend and artist extraordinaire GIL KANE have a new treat  -- 
Comics blogging juggernaut Mykal Banta has brought forth his 100th comics blog,
KINGDOM KANE!

(Okay, I'm just kidding about the 100th blog, I don't know where he finds the time or energy for all his great blogs, but we the readers are the lucky ones, we just get to enjoy them all)

The new blog features exclusively the magnificent art of GIL KANE!
How can you go wrong there? Ya gotta love it!
Thanks, Mykal!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

MY RECENT COMIC BOOK ERA POLL RESULTS!



The readers have spoken!

The final poll results to determine which era of comic books is your favorite have made your choices clear! The majority of comic fans frequenting this blog have chosen the Silver Age as their favorite era of comics! That isn't surprising, when one realizes that the Silver Age is when comics experienced a dramatic rebirth, spurred on by Marvel and DC comics, who brought forth the comics renaissance of the 60's! Also not surprising considering how many readers of a certain age, like myself, grew up with these comics! The final percentage of readers preferring Silver Age comics was 43%!

Coming in at a close second is the Golden Age, at 35%. While I love the Silver Age, I am a fan of the Golden Age because the more I explore those older comics, the more amazing stuff I discover. Many great names that Silver Age fans are familiar with actually began working in the Golden Age, and a close look will reveal what I call 'hidden treasures' by great artists like Gil Kane, Joe Sinnott, Gene Colan, John Romita, Jack Kirby, etc, etc., etc.! I think I love Golden Age comics also because they are the foundation for all the comics that followed, obviously, and serious study of them will uncover incredible and fascinating things that you may not have been exposed to before.

The Bronze Age received 12% of the votes, and many of us collecting comics have scads of these beauties. Like any of the eras, this one produced some good, some bad, some great, and some really awful comics. The closer we get to the present, the more comic publishers and therefore the more comics there were for us to buy! The more comics there were, the more new artist were appearing, and the face of comics changed again.

The Copper Age and the Modern Age each received 1% of the votes. This isn't a comment on the quality of the comics produced then, merely a reflection of this blog's readership, who obviously don't come here to look at new comics. It was during this time frame that technology really progressed and changed the way comics were produced, for better or worse. Lotsa great stuff in these eras, too!

Finally, we had 5% of readers who admitted they thought that this blog was a porn site. As far as I know, it isn't. Sorry, you 5 %  --  I hope you still drop in and enjoy the comics!

Thanks, everyone who voted! Soon I will post another poll designed to discover more of your likes and dislikes, your deepest hidden thoughts, and your discriminating preferences regarding yet another scintillating comic book topic! I already know I have the best blog readers in the world coming here...not only are you intelligent, you're also good-looking!

If you voted (or even if you didn't), feel free to leave a comment now as to why you feel a certain era is better or not compared to the others, won't you? I'd love to hear what you have to say!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

WAR: KILL OR BE KILLED - Atlas' "FIRST BLOOD!" and EC's "ENEMY ASSAULT!"


Cover art by George Tuska


Today I'm comparing two stories that address the subject of killing during wartime. While the two comics featured were both published during the Korean War, I'm sure the psychology of killing remains the same no matter what the era or conflict.

I found it interesting to compare the way each writer/publisher handled the subject. I have already made it clear in earlier posts that I find EC Comics war titles, as edited by Harvey Kurtzman, to be superior to most every other war comics, past or present, so naturally one of the stories here is a solid representative of those Kurtzman war titles. The other story is taken from Stan Lee and company's Atlas Comics.

Up first is a short story entitled "FIRST BLOOD!" from Atlas' WAR COMBAT #2, 1952 (I know what you're going to say, and no, there is no one named Rambo in this one). It concerns a soldier new to life-or-death combat, and the mental agonies he faces over the prospect of taking another man's life.

The art is by Norman Steinberg. The story is
"FIRST BLOOD!"



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As we've explored here before, many war comic stories can range from a serious, thoughtful look at the philosophies and ramifacations of war, to the basic patriotic near-propaganda type story. This interesting tale seems to start as one and end as the other. By the end of the story, quite suddenly, our protaganist has dropped any apprehensions he held for the first 99% of the story and adopts the attitude that his Sergeant has been trying to sell him, and as if he were a robot who realizes that his emotions were clouding his judgement, he dismisses his enemies as human beings and transforms them into 'dirty rats'. All of a sudden he becomes a killing machine, eager to find more 'symbols of tyranny' to gut.

To my friends who have served in the military and have faced such threats, I'll say that I can only try to understand how it must be to face a situation like this. From the harrowing true combat stories I've been told, I can understand that facing a deadly enemy who is out to kill you rather necessitates such a simplified outlook. I'm only saying here that this story seems to ignore the larger issues of having to kill a man for the very first time and wraps up the subject into a neat package wrapped in a red, white and blue bow. There are no hints here that he will later have nightmares about this. Hey, I know it's just a comic book, and no one really expects to find a deeper psychological understanding in a comic. Still, the story started out with promise that it just might delve a bit deeper...


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...Which brings us to our second tale, and true to form, Kurtzman's writing and layouts do offer a much more complex view on the subject of the 'enemy'. From FRONTLINE COMBAT #1, 1951,  we now look at a story drawn by the amazing Jack Davis. The story isn't focused on the soldiers first kill, but rather takes us to an uncomfortable place where we must face the fact that our enemy is a man, just as we.

Written by Harvey Kurtzman, art by Jack Davis.
"ENEMY ASSAULT!"




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To be honest, Kurtzman's story seems to end on the same type of patriotic note of duty over emotion. But it is far more complex than that, as we, through the American soldier's eyes, have learned a lesson that his companions were not aware of. As he turns once more to fire at the tiny figures as if they were no more than ducks in a shooting gallery arcade, we are profoundly aware of the incomprehensible emotional journey he has just made, the gut-wrenching burden that will likely haunt him for the rest of his life. This is an incredibly moving story, delving so much deeper into the subject than the Atlas story chose to explore. By comparison, our first story barely scratched the surface. The second story took us all the way into that dark pit and exposed us to a small glimpse into the true horror of war.


Remember,
The next time you meet one of our brave soldiers,
don't forget to give them the honor and respect that they deserve.


Frontline Combat #1 cover proof with signature by artist Harvey Kurtzman

Thursday, April 1, 2010

WHO KNEW ATOMIC BOMBS COULD BE SO FUNNY?


Her are two comic stories from the Golden Age that come right on the heels of the end of World War Two and the advent of the atomic bomb. The stories were published in ATOMIC BOMB COMICS #1 (1946), naturally, and feature some of the silliest superheroes you'll ever lay eyes on, namely AIRMALE &  STAMPY, and CAPTAIN MILKSOP!

Ah, yes, a simpler time in our history, a time when it was all right for a grown man to spend his days hanging out with, and shooting hypodermic needles into young boys! ATOMIC BOMB COMICS was a one-shot, never to be seen or heard from again, which is sad in a way, because the art and stories weren't terrible. It is hard to tell if this story was meant to be taken seriously or not. I'll let you decide that!
Artist unknown.

Up first, it's
AIRMALE & STAMPY!













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In the same issue we have CAPTAIN MILKSOP, with art by Charles Voight. Charles (C.A.)Voight was actually a Platinum Age cartoonist and illustrator, known perhaps for his early comic strips Petey, and Betty, and he died one year after this story was published. Captain Milksop was obviously not meant to be taken seriously, and it is actually pretty funny on purpose.

Here he is,
CAPTAIN MILKSOP!













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(These comic scans were donated for use here by an anonymous source.)